Hopefully by now all of you have taken a look at my review of Drift by Andrew Cyrus Hudson. At only 24, Andrew has managed to do what so few of us could ever dream of. I'm happy to announce that Andrew has taken a few moments to answer a few questions I posed to him about his book Drift and some advice for budding young writers wondering how to make their way through the difficult world of writing and publishing. For more about Andrew and his debut novel, Drift, head over to his personal website and Goodreads page.
ACH: Yes and no.
I've always wanted to do something creative and often times it involved being a storyteller. Whether it was dreaming about being a video game maker (when I was a kid/preteen), songwriter (later part of my teens), or screenwriter (very early twenties). But after trying different writing mediums (screenwriting, comic book writing, etc.), I eventually fell in love with prose writing.
K: Was it something you studied at university? Is it something you see as necessary for a young writer?
ACH: I did indeed study writing at a university. Or rather, I took a course on writing and a few other courses on literature. The creative writing class may or may not be necessary. It all depends on the person. But it sure doesn't hurt. It forces you to write and go beyond your comfort zone. Not to mention that it focus on different aspects of writing (e.g a few classes on details, a few classes on voices, etc.).
Literature classes however, is something I think should be a requirement not just for young writers but for everyone. It teaches you that books and stories are much more than plots or simply having a cool idea. Those classes will also push you out of your comfort zone to read different novels such as The House of Mirth or Heart of Darkness.
K:What is your writing routine, if you have one?
ACH: There isn't a specific time/place I write other than I always try to write every day. Each week I increase the amount of time I spend writing. So when I start a new novel, the first week I'll write five minutes a day. Then the next week ten minutes a day. And so on, so forth I finally finish the first draft. For second drafts and subsequent ones, I write by words (500 words a week, then 1000 words a week, etc.). I know it's very unorthodox but somehow it works for me.
K: Who are your literary influences?
ACH: Well obviously there's Stephen King but there's a lot of other influences. Philip K Dick, Bret Easton Ellis, Neil Gaiman, William Gibson, Jay McInerney, and a whole lot of others (see my GoodReads for more books and authors I like). And although he's a screenwriter and director, there's no way I could talk about influences without mentioning John Hughes, who might be my biggest influence.
ACH: The upcoming anthologyStrange Happenings, is going to be modern day science-fiction. Then the next novel, Poem for the Wolves, is going to be a mix of science-fiction (very near future), action/war, and poetry. However, since they aren't too genre specific, I'm not sure what category people will put them under. When I did Drift, I thought it was drama with elements of horror and mystery. But most reviewers have labelled it as either thriller or horror. Ultimately, I'd like to try all sorts of genres and styles. Not just horror or science-fiction.
K: Where did the story for Drift come from?
ACH: It was more of a flash of inspiration than a complete idea for a story. I was driving one afternoon while listening to Pearl Jam's "The Fixer" on KROQ (Southern California's biggest rock/alternative station) and I had a sudden vision. The vision was of a young thirty something man in flannel driving a red truck down the highway. I wasn't sure who it was or what was going on in the vision but later on, I put the pen down on the paper to see where it all lead to. I think I put that in the afterword.
K:My favourite aspects of the story were those that centred around the killer, did you do any research into how a psychopath operates/thinks or did you just write until it felt right?
ACH: Actually, I didn't even know that there would be a psychopathic killer (see above). I knew that there was a good chance that something bad was going to be brewing once Travis reached his destination. At one point I thought it was going to be a big supernatural event. At another point I thought it might be two killer circus clown brothers. But once Travis reached Greenwood I realized it was the killer.
Point is, because it was completely by the seat of my pants, I had no time to research or prepare for what happened next. However, some of it was influenced by interviews I saw of notorious serial killers. Regardless of how emotional or crazy they acted, they always seemed detached with an urge to kill rather than a logical reason. Ultimately though, I was more interested in the killer's story than writing a generic but realistic serial killer.
K: Were the characters based on or inspired by anyone you know in real life?
ACH: For me, writing characters is like walking into a bar/pub and chatting with random strangers. It's not that I base it on anyone I know in real life. However, just like talking to a stranger, sometimes I'll come across a character that reminds me a little of someone I know. However, there were no characters where I said "Whoa! He's/She's exactly like ______."
K: I was not a fan of Eileen (see my review for why). Were you expecting a reaction like this?
ACH: Actually, I don't expect any kind of specific reaction, since there's always reasons to love or hate a character. However, I was amused at your hatred of Eileen.
When I was writing the book, I was trying to find out why Travis separated from her. I was afraid that there might not be much reason at all but then as I got further into the story, I realized they were both flawed people with a few important patches to fix in their marriage.
However, I do have a lot of questions burning in the back of my mind about their relationship. Will it work? Will Eileen work on her temper? Will ______ be a successful ______? I would be lying if I said I didn't want to put the pen to the paper and find out for myself.
K: Was there any aspect of the novel that was especially hard to write, or to figure out?
ACH: Probably the hardest was figuring out a hook for the novel. Something that would grab people's interests from the get go and allow the story to properly set up without the fear of losing people's attentions. Ultimately my editor (Kristin Bomba) suggested that I move a chapter that was in the middle of the story, the bar murder scene, to the beginning of the story.
K:There’s a huge amount of music in this book, from Travis’s career, to the songs being played throughout the car rides, how important is music to you?
ACH: Before being a writer, I wanted to be a musician. I played the guitar and keyboard. And while I don't play those any more, I still do listen to quite a lot of music. Often times I'll get flashes of inspirations for stories simply by listening to music. Or I'll listen to certain music to help get into the mood for writing a specific story. Perhaps one day I'll figure a way out to incorporate song writing into a novel.
K: And finally, do you have any advice for any budding, young authors?
ACH: I guess it depends where they're at in their writing stage. If they're starting, then take baby steps before big leaps. Begin with simple paragraphs, move on up to short stories, and naturally progress to novels. Rather than trying to write a novel right off the bat.
If you've already been writing for a while, I don't know what to say since we're both in the same camp. Other than if you feel ready for it, get a novel published. Whether it's through a publisher or self-published. Because there's a lot more to being a writer than writing. And you can only really learn the other half of the trade through publishing.
A huge thanks to Andrew C. Hudson for taking the time to answer these questions!